Saudia 777 First Class In 10 Pictures

Hello from Saudi Arabia! I just flew Saudia’s new 777-300ER first class product for the 11 hour flight from New York to Riyadh. I booked this using Chase Ultimate Rewards points that I transferred to Korean Air SkyPass. Saudia releases a ton of first class award availability, so it’s a near guarantee that just about any flight will have first class award availability (and we’re not just talking one seat, but rather four to seven seats). A roundtrip award ticket between the US and Middle East costs 160,00 SkyPass miles.

I’m not going to lie, I was going into this flight with low expectations given my past experiences on Saudia, but wow, was I impressed. Saudia first class was phenomenal. I’ll have a full trip report soon, but in the meantime will do my typical “10 pictures” post.

Saudia’s new 777-300ER first class cabin consists of 12 seats, in a 1-2-1 configuration.

The suites are fully enclosed, and are very similar to those you’ll find on Garuda Indonesia, as well as a bunch of other airlines. The seat finishes are beautiful, in my opinion, though I do wish the seats had a bit more padding. That being said, the plane was brand new, and in immaculate condition. It even still had the new plane smell.

It’s surprising that Saudia has 12 of these suites on their 777, given that they never seem to go out full. On this flight there was only one other passenger in first class.

There were great amenities, including Porsche Design pajamas and amenity kits.

The amenity kit had Acca Kappa products — very nice! There was even another sleep kit for later on, which had an aroma stick (whatever that is) and foot cream (please don’t tell me you’re supposed to use that on a plane?).

First class passengers also receive free wifi. Unfortunately Saudia uses OnAir, which I find has among the slowest speeds, so it wasn’t all that useful.

What really impressed me about the flight, though, was the service. Taking care of first class was Lejla from Bosnia, Hanane from Morocco, and Chef Ali from Bahrain (and actually from all over the world, as he has lived everywhere).

The other first class passenger was observing Ramadan, and given the hours of the flight, it basically meant they were taking care of just me from dinner and breakfast service (since I was eating while it was light outside and sleeping while it was dark outside).

Speaking of which, I don’t think I’ve ever been on a flight with so many people observing Ramadan. Most of the other passengers weren’t eating for the first and last quarter of the flight (since it was light outside), and had two meals back to back in the middle of the flight, while it was dark outside. They even announced over the PA when the sun had set, so that people could break their fast.

Anyway, the crew was absolutely phenomenal. Their attention to detail was top notch, and they were genuinely attentive and engaging. The menu looked fantastic, though Chef Ali really helped with customizing it. There are a few airlines with onboard chefs, though Saudia offers among the most customization. I could have just about everything prepared how I wanted.

I decided to have a five course meal shortly after takeoff. To start I had a chicken and mushroom cream soup. Delicious, and what great presentation!

Next up was caviar. While Saudia’s caviar portions are small, they do offer Petrossian caviar, which is impressive.

Next up was a mezze.

For the main course I had prawns. He gave me a bunch of choices for how I wanted them prepared, but I left it to him, and he didn’t disappoint.

Lastly for dessert I chose the “chocolate lover’s” option, which was so good.

What a fantastic meal, in terms of the quality of the food, service, and customizability.

However, Saudia is a dry airline, which is something many will care about. I know this sounds crazy (or maybe I’m trying to make the best of the situation), but in a way it was almost a good thing. When I fly an airline with amazing champagne I’m always tempted to have a couple of glasses too many. Meanwhile on Saudia I didn’t wake up feeling hungover. They also had a mocktail list, and I tried a couple of them. They were quite nice, including the mint mojito.

I got a solid five hours of sleep on the flight. My biggest complaint about Saudia’s new first class is the bedding. They’ve invested so much in the new cabins, but then just have a thin sheet they place on your seat for turndown service, and a basic blanket that you’d expect in a mediocre business class product. C’mon, Saudia, add a real duvet and mattress pad to this otherwise great product.

Suffice to say that Saudia greatly exceeded my expectations. I’ll have a much more detailed trip report soon, but Saudia’s new first class cabins are gorgeous, the crew I had on this sector was phenomenal (though I’m not sure if that’s the exception or the norm in first class), the food and onboard chef concept were great, and the amenities were solid as well.

I’m sure the experience was also partly great because there was just one other passenger, and we had a crew of three taking care of us. However, that almost seems to be the norm for Saudia, based on the flights I’ve looked at.

Comments

  1. Are you being held hostage and forced to post this?

    That food, excepting the caviar, doesn’t look good for business class. First, no way…

  2. That is impressive.

    However … a few months ago there was an announcement to replace all foreign workers with Saudis by – 2020, was it? Part of their Saudization program. Of course, this is just a fantasy, but they do need to get more Saudis into jobs, and slowly it will happen. What will the service be like then, I wonder. (Most people I know here choose a supermarket checkout staffed by a foreigner over a Saudi cos they know the service will be better.)

  3. …That don’t impress me much!

    Apart from the fully flat seat, this could be Premium economy on any given airline.
    Now i understand why that Saudi princess chose to fly Emirates on same flight you were on a while back.
    This is really underwhelming to say the least. Food on your AA business on the A321 to NY looked better than this.

    Is this really you writing this?

  4. What we are curious about is your visit in Saudi Arabia. Why there and did you have bag search at the jet bridge when boarding? Are you expecting to be grilled by CBP on your return?

  5. I’m surprised at the number of people that seem to be criticising the legitimacy of this review. Having flown dozens of airlines in first class and having experienced this product himself, I believe that Lucky is providing his usual objective review of Saudia first class. Sure, the food might look mediocre, but I’m sure it looks better than it tastes. A lie flat seat with a duvet, two pillows and a five-course meal isn’t “premium economy on any given airline”.

    Stop with your prejudice of Saudia. I’m not in any way affiliated with the airline or region. Just giving you my two cents.

  6. Do you think CLT will ever get Asia service? If so, when do you think it’ll get Asia service.Where do you think the flight will be going to? What carrier do you think will operate the flight?

  7. @Ben any chance Saudia, like China Eastern, knew your were coming and gave you their best crew?

    On another note, can anyone explain how to get these 80,000 mile Saudia first fares? The Delta website doesn’t even have an option to search for First and their business fares are nearly double what is noted here.

  8. The caviar and soup are nicely presented. But, the presentation of the mezze and prawns do look a bit underwhelming for First Class. They do look more like something you would get in Business Class. But, as long as it tastes good, that’s what matters in the end, I suppose…

    “However, Saudia is a dry airline, which is something many will care about.”

    The funny thing, isn’t it recommended to avoid alcohol (and caffeine, too) while flying?

  9. @Malc; Who will drive the Carts??!
    Most of the coments are so lazy…like the writers.
    Have fun Lucky!

  10. Hope you enjoyed the caviar as many suffer under one of the most oppressive governments in the world. Thanks for helping to prop up the regime.

  11. @Sami
    “Apart from the fully flat seat, this could be Premium economy on any given airline.”

    Really?

    Please, please tell me what PE offers Porsche jimjams and caviar.

    I’m gonna save so much money!

    Or… Are you just an idiot?

  12. @Bill please. Everytime you fill your gas tank you prop up the regime. The airline to the Saudis is a novelty not a moneymaker. Maybe be a bit more mindful before you speak.

  13. @Ben I am sure you mentioned this on another post, but I cannot remember. Were you connecting through Riyadh? From which airline? Did you need a transit visa? Any issues?

  14. Ben, Thanks so much for a very interesting and informative review. I’ve worked in the airline business for almost two decades, and, other than seeing their aircraft, I’ve known very little about Saudia. To me, the food looks delicious, the amenities kits very nice, and the sitting comfortable. Finally, I want a pair of those Porsche PJs!
    Tell us, though. Were you transiting through Riyadh or did you somehow manage to get a visa?

  15. @Josh:

    the 2nd sentence in the article explains it:

    I booked this using Chase Ultimate Rewards points that I transferred to Korean Air SkyPass.

  16. While the rest of you struggle to find reward seats during Christmas or Thanksgiving or Labor Day, others like me will gladly go dry to easily fly luxuriously on the dates we want and the locations we want. Please Lucky, don’t tell people how great these dry Airlines really are! People and their prejudices keep them from enjoying the better things in life.

  17. Isn’t this the airline were the female F/A’s do all the work while the males sit and eat?
    I will wait in the Qatar Air First Class lounge until the political problems blow over.

  18. Hi Lucky

    RE Aroma Stick – It’s called Miswak a tooth cleaning twig derived from a tree. It is used commonly by Muslims as an alternative to the tooth paste which cannot be used while fasting. Hence SV might have added this item to the amenity kit as its Ramadan.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miswak

  19. For me I agree, British Airways first class and Business Class for full service, and il love the lounge for first class to heatrow airport. And Émirates.

  20. @C @Leo
    Yeah I agree. That looks like Singapore Airlines economy food AT BEST, except for the caviar.

  21. Come on, man… 24 hours ago you complained about not being able to access LGBTQ-websites in a Korean Air lounge. And now you’re raving about the Saudi first class? Maybe you don’t know this, but any LGBTQ caught in Saudi loses a hell of a lot more than their web access. Hope you enjoyed the caviar…

  22. @Speedbird: it is not about being an alcoholic. It is about flying an airline that imposes restrictions. If I can fly on an airline that gives an equal or better experience than Saudia and serves a nice wine I would prefer that airline. Also, not sure if having all thise great meals with orange juice or water provides the same experience when having a nice glass of wine to pair with it. Last, when I fly business or first class and pay those prices I assume a nice meal and beverage selection will be available. Does Saudia give a discount on the price of their first class because they do not spend any money in alcoholic beverages? Probably not.

  23. @Paul and the rest of the hens pecking at me.

    Obviously i exaggerated abit there. The food looks so underwhelming and the fully flat bed is just that and doesn’t look comfortable at all.
    I don’t think Porsche PJs would make me fell much better.
    I love prawns but that doesn’t look appetizing with that overdone broccoli. And then no booze for the 11hr flight… With wine that would go down abit better though i’d still be making faces.

    With such an underwhelming product, then it indeed makes sense why that princess chose Emirates.
    I honestly though much higher of Saudia and expected much better.

  24. These misconceptions about Saudia are bull the food is better than what is served on Emirates first class it looks bad but the service is genuinely amazing the Saudi crew is even better,and in regards to lgbtq half our fucking nation is homosexual Saudi doesn’t enforce anything they are unnenforced laws even half our royal family is gay

  25. @sami so Ben tried Saudia first class and had a positive experience but you still decided, despite everything he wrote and without experiencing it yourself, that it wasn’t any good.

    You fascinate me.

    This just goes to show that some people try to find reasons to hate, and when they don’t find any, they make them up.

  26. Hey just alerting you of a typo in the caption for the prawns dish: “He gave me a bunch of choices for how I wanted them prepare, but I left it to him, and he didn’t disappoint.” Should be prepared not prepare. 😉

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